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29 June 2021

Best free antivirus software

We rate free antivirus software downloads for malware protection and ease of use, so that we can tell you the top best free antivirus software suites around.
Michael Passingham
Woman using mac laptop

Equipping your computer with virus protection doesn't have to cost a penny – we've pinpointed the best free antivirus downloads that impressed us most in our lab tests. These free tools even outperformed a number of paid-for security suites.

Although these free security software packages are pretty basic, they will help you locate, prevent and remove malware and viruses. The best have extra features, such as a firewall or anti-phishing protection, although they may lack the breadth of features of the best paid-for antivirus software packages

See the best free antivirus software packages below. 

Best free antivirus software

  • 80%
    £0.00

    Good overall protection, and a lightweight and easy-to-use program makes this package a decent free choice and, for the first time, it gets Best Buy status and is the best free package we tested this year. Phishing protection is excellent, and the only downside we could see was that its scans weren't the absolute best of the packages we tested this year.

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  • 78%
    £0.00

    This free package offers excellent basic protection, and very little slipped through its net during our extensive lab testing of thousands of malware files. It wasn’t quite as reliable at locating viruses when it didn’t have access to its online database of known threats, but it was still pretty good. Phishing protection was also up there with the best, although not quite a top scorer.

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  • 78%
    £0.00

    This free package is a reliable guard against malware and ransomware, but isn’t quite as effective at defending against phishing attacks and its scans aren’t quite up there with the very best. Still, it’s easy to use and one of the better free products we’ve tested.

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Does free internet security give enough protection?

Downloading free antivirus software is certainly tempting, and the options above will help to keep your computer free from malicious malware.

But you shouldn't regard paid-for packages as a waste of money – you can get Best Buy security software for around £30 per year, which isn't much to pay for the extra peace of mind it offers.

To help you decide whether or not to dig into your wallet for virus protection, check out our expert guide on how to choose the best antivirus software.

Is Microsoft Windows 10 Security (Defender) good enough to rely on? 

Microsoft Security Essentials in Windows 7 was rightly criticised for its lack of effective protection. If you use Windows 7, we advise you to go with our Best Buy antivirus packages, including free options. 

When Windows 10 launched, Microsoft introduced Defender, now called Microsoft Windows 10 Security, and after a fairly rocky start, it's now a viable line of defence against malware and other threats. 

Microsoft Windows 10 Security (Defender) isn't quite good enough yet to trouble our Best Buy and top-scoring antivirus packages, however. It lacks effective protection against phishing attacks, where a cybercriminal sends a message with the intent of tricking you into revealing personal information, such as your password or bank details. It also doesn't have the creature comforts of a proper, full-blown antivirus suite. Our Microsoft Windows 10 Security (Defender) review has all the details. 

To be sure of the top-notch, all round protection that you need, go for one of the free antivirus packages above, or browse the paid-for versions for extra features and functions.